Making Ends Meat

September 19, 2008

Hard times? Ass-whipped economy getting you down? Then skip the $20 appetizer, $55 ribeye, overpriced Cabernet, and the scornful eyes of a bitter waitress (for when you ask to share a 22oz steak) and, instead, make it yourself.

Fellow New Yorkers can score some tasty dry-aged ribeyes at Fairway for around $20 a pound but if you do not have access to a decent butcher Allen Brothers, the same people who provide steaks to at least half of America’s greatest steak houses, provides delivery too.

Dr. Atkins is dead, but that doesn’t mean his lesson plans for the overweight, middle aged men across America can be forgotten. So in honor of the deceased doc I present to you this high-cholesterol, high-fat, protein rich steak house dinner. If you can’t go without the carbs, throw a potato in the oven.

Should serve four family style:

2 dry-aged bone-in-ribeyes

rosemary branches

1/4c blended olive oil

salt and pepper

head of garlic

Night before: rub ribeyes with oil and whole rosemary branches, cover and marinate. Next day: preheat oven to 400 F. Cut off top of garlic, place in a piece of foil and pout in 1T of oil, wrap, cook apx. 40 minutes. Heat cast iron (or the heaviest pan you got) skillet on high. Wipe off oil and rosemary from steaks and generously season with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Depending on the size of your steaks and skillet you might want to cook one at a time so that you do not overcrowd your pan. This should take a good six minutes per side, then turn until the other side is as nicely charred.

You can continue to cook for another few minutes stove top for a perfect medium rare. If you prefer your steaks more medium to medium-well, do not continue cooking stove top or you will over do it on the char. Instead place them on a heavy sheet pan in the oven until cooked to desired temperature.

Let steak rest for a couple of minutes before slicing. Serve on large platter with roasted garlic and rosemary branches

Creamed Rainbow Chard

1 large bunch of rainbow chard (can use any green)

1/2 small onion chopped

2 head garlic minced

4 strips of bacon cut into lardons

2 T butter

2 T flour

1 c heavy cream

1/2 c grated parmesean

1/4 tsp fresh great nutmeg

Rinse, dry, and chop your greens (or open a bag). Cook bacon until light brown, remove from pan and land on a paper towel. Remove some grease if necessary leaving about a teaspoon, add onions, cook until translucent, add garlic, then cover with flour, cook for a minute. Slowly whisk in cream until mixture is smooth. Add the chard, and with tongs continuously turn the chard until covered with cream and wilting. If the mixture is too thick, add more cream. Add bacon, parmesean, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Pour into large dish and serve family style.

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One Girl, Many Weiners

September 15, 2008

So I had a little time off this week and decided to do something very important. In an ongoing investigation, I completed my martyred assignment of consuming more hot dogs than humanly necessary to unveil just where one can find the best hot dogs in NYC. The search extended from midtown Manhattan all the way dwn to Coney Island, and with a few stops in between. I feel a bit like an affectionate orphanage director when it comes to each of these dogs; I’m not sure I can pick an absolute favorite because they are all so great in their own way.

At Papaya King I kept things basic: two frankfurters with kraut, onions, ketchup and mustard and washed it down with papaya juice. Perfectly blistered casing makes these dogs delicious to bite into. There is something about the juice that soothes the belly just right, which, somehow, helps you not taste the dog all day. At three dollars this is by far the best deal in Manhattan.

You cannot dismiss the Shack-cago-dog at The Shake Shack just because the Madison Square Park spot is only known for burgers. They use a Vienna all-beef dog, drug through the garden with Rick’s Picks relish on a poppyseed bun. I highly recommend dragging a friend with you to share this as an app. and move onto a burger and shake from there. (Fuck dieting.)

Due to the clout from the masturbatory media, I was drawn to Criff Dog on the LES (apparently copied a place in NJ Rut’s Hut). This place features a pork-based deep fried dog, unlike most NY dogs which are all beef and usually grilled. To be honest I mainly went here to eat the creations of two famous chefs Wylie Dufresne and David Chang. The Chang Dog is deep fried and bacon-wrapped served with a red kimchee puree, and the Dufresne which was fried sans bacon and topped with fried mayonnaise, freeze dried onions, and lettuce. Both tie for most interesting dogs, but I don’t think I have converted from chili just yet.

Enter the newcomer: The Fulton Landing hot dog stand/lot across from the famous Grimaldi’s Pizza. I say skip the effin line for the pizza and get a dog at this new winner. I started off with a curry dog (chicken braut topped with a red curry sauce and curry powder served with a small pita) which was succulent but not quite enough. I spotted a Texas Meal Dog on the menu, and a really ridiculous side of me feels obligated to order such things as though they were made specially for my Lone Star State-born self. Honestly this was far better than any chili dog I have had in Texas. Made with a hearty braised beef chili and pickled red onions this did not even remotely resemble the stuff from the can.

Speaking of stuff from a can, I am quite certain that at the mecca of hot dogs, Nathan’s Coney Island, the chili there which was overblown with beans was the latter. While this certainly didn’t ruin my experience it is simply a reminder that some things are considered great mainly for the sake of nostalgia. The challenge of holding down the dog on the Cyclone might be the best part of all.

Wine + Dancing = Cast

September 14, 2008

I suppose now is a better time than any to introduce you to the real me as I type with one hand. Cool and debonair as I may seem, put a few drinks in me and I am like a drunk minstrel sure to have everyone laughing at my own expense. (Ask me about the time back in 2005 when I downed shots of Jager that led to a potato sack race on concrete to led to a trip to the ER sometime.)

Well, the good news is I have grown up a bit and do not drink things with words like “bomb” in them anymore. However, I am still not immune to ER visits after drinking. On one lovely Carrie Bradshaw-ish night out with the sister recently, we first went to visit Elizabeth in SoHo (lovely but overpriced and portions way too small) where afterward we stopped into the hot new Delicatessen in SoHo (one of my new faves we will discuss later) to forgo a teaspoon of sorbet for some smores and Ovaltine pudding parfait accompanied by not one but two bottles of vino.

Oops!

We stumbled back to sister’s apt where the two of us danced like eighth graders to Abba, when, all of the sudden, her plush rug slipped out from underneath me and I landed on my left wrist. The night went on and Cindy Lauper rocked the house. Then morning came. I can’t put my hair up, can’t open a water bottle, can hardly button up pants. Time elapses, you get the picture. I now have a brace on my broken wrist for four weeks, FUCK!

I am out of work indefinitely and am writing this with a package of frozen corn nibblets on my arm, but a foodie still has to eat and cook if she does not want to fall victim to poverty by spending all of her money on going out to eat. Or to get poisoned by boyfriend’s potentially bland food.

So, in honor of all of my friends out their with a hook, nub, or cast (non-crips are welcome to try too, just stick one hand in your sleeve) I am culminating one-handed recipes. Not stupid, lazy, rich housewife recipes like Sandra Lee’s but real food with innovative technique.

More to come …

Delicatessen

September 14, 2008

Do yourself a favor and go to Delicatessen asap. Soon and very soon it will carry the same clout as hotspots like The Spotted Pig and Momofuku. Then winter will come around, and you will be stuck outside, with a two-hour wait, shivering in the midst of European tourists or sandwiched between a cougar and an Abercrombie model by the bar. The place is hot, despite its clubby look with its stainless steel interior complimented by glossy whites and a warm unfinished reclaimed wood. OK, so what? It’s beautiful, I admit, and the entire restaurant opens up to the outside, making for great people-watching time.

Delicatessen’s balance stays steady from everything to the cool (but not asshole-cool) service to the whimsical yet classic menu. The cheeseburger spring rolls were perfectly crisp on the outside and succulent on the inside. Not greasy, either. The housemade ketchup provides the perfect amount of class and trash that I adore.

The fish tacos, served in fried wontons with shreaded Halibut with a kimchee mayonaise, was very light and airy with a touch of spice. I wish there was more of a kimchee taste, but give ’em props just for going there.

Unfortunately I did not have room for the fried chicken, half of chicken, marinated in buttermilk, served with jalepeno corn bread and spicy coleslaw (btw only $14.00). I salivate as I write this knowing how good it will be my next trip. This place is open until two on weekends, one on weekdays.

It gets better too, they have an entire pastry kitchen where they make everything including ice cream from scratch. Yes I am the annoying customer who asks very tedious and suspicious questions. I indulged in the smores made with fried marshmallows and my sis had the ovaltine pudding parfait upen my insistence. Both were better than they sound, and words will not do them justice. (Sorry for no dessert pics. Quite intoxicated by then.)

Oh, yeah, did I mention I had the Nicoise salad? The tuna was perfectly cooked, the accompaniments were appropriate, but, you know, it’s still a salad.

Bonerific Bones

September 14, 2008

After noshing on marrow bones at several of NYC eateries, Prune and Blue Ribbon being a couple of favorites, I realized that, fancy pants as the dish may seem, its the sheer simplicity of it that makes it.

Anyone could make it, really. The only barriers you might have are: A. finding the bones (I found mine on the shelves at Fairway, but I am sure your butcher has them lying around), B. trimming the exterior of the bones, which will require a very sharp paring knife to scrape away at the external flesh.

I have heard that some people soak the bones in order to remove blood, but I did not do this. It was fine.

After you have achieved the basic recipe, you might want to compliment the marrow with a marmalade. Blue Ribbon serves them with an oxtail marmalade that is delicious. Onion marmalade works, too. A crisp fennel and parsley salad might help cut the richness of the dish for the faint of heart. If you have access to a grill, grilled bread is phenomenal with marrow.

Ingredients: 4 servings

8 marrow bones (cleaned and scraped)
1/4 c blended oil
6 rosemary sprigs
kosher salt
Maldon salt (for serving)

8 slices of white bread
4 T butter, maybe more (don’t be stingy)

Method:

Toss the bones with oil and rosemary sprigs. Cover overnight. Preheat oven to 400. Place bones on heavy baking sheet right-side up and bake until the center is gelatinous, but not runny. Meanwhile, make toast like the French.

For those of you who didn’t waste $40K on culinary school to find out how, save your money. I’ll tell you: Melt butter in a skillet on a medium high flame. (Do not let it achieve any color.) Place two pieces of bread in at a time and move around frequently. Flip, add more butter as needed. When perfectly golden on both sides, place on paper towel and salt. It is vital to your experience that your toast be soft, not a cracker.

Remove bones from oven and carefully remove with spatula onto a plater. (Do not let any of the marrow escape.) Serve with buttery toast and Maldon salt. Garnish with fresh rosemary and lemon wedges. Roasted garlic optional.


Camelbert?

September 14, 2008

Yes you read that right. Well this variety is actually called Caravane. it is like a brie with a bloomy rind and creamy, gooey center but has a hint of interesting earthy animal taste. I think this is only in NYC right now, available at Sahadi’s, Stinky Bklyn, Zabar’s, and a few other locales.

Thank god this came along because goat is so 1990!


Adventures in Meat

September 14, 2008

I am not going to lie to you and say that I only eat high-quality organic this-n-that. It’s mostly true, but I am still a Texan with generations worth of white trash in my blood which makes me inclined to snap into a Slim Jim, cover vegetables in Velveeta, or smother a perfectly good steak with some A1 Sauce.

So to save myself from … well, myself … I’ve attempted to reinvent some of those old faves with a wee more sophistication and way less artificial flavor. Beef jerky, after all, is the original American Charcuterie, and a recent cabining excursion in Connecticut and a recipe from Homesick Texan motivated me to get in touch with my inner cavegirl and make a batch for myself.

Ingredients:

apx. 2lbs. top round (fat trimmed)
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 cloves garlic (minced)
4 t chili powder
2 t chipotle chile powder
1 t cayenne
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
1 T salt

Method:

Place meat in freezer for about 30 minutes. It will make slicing easier. Cut into 1/8 in. thick slices. Mix remaining ingredients together and pour over meat, cover and marinate for at least six hours. Preheat oven to 175. Remove meat from mixture and pat dry. Spread out on two sheet pans and cook for thre hours, flip each piece and cook another 2-3 hours.

Drunkproof

September 14, 2008

No I do not work for CB2, but I am prepared to sound like an infomercial anyway. There, you can find the incredible “Marta” glassware made from super thin and durable beaker glass. Why should you care? It’s multi-functional, appropriate for anything from wine to an Old Fashioned, and, at around $2.00 a glass, you can afford to have more than four. (You know who you are, cheap friends, who make us drink out of coffee mugs when you run out of real glasses.) Also I recently discovered that your drunk “friends” can drop them on your cement rooftop and, not only do they not break, but they bounce.

For another $6.00, buy the beaker pitcher too. Think sangria, bloody Marys, mojitos for your next boozathon.

The New Spork

September 14, 2008

The new “spork” from the MoMa store is brilliant for many reasons. First, the overly publicized David Chang has made ramen as ubiquitous as the bagel; so there’s no reason we shouldn’t have a utensil meant for the noodle alone. Plus you don’t want the green police after your chopstick-wasting ass, do you?

I think this might also be a cross-over utensil. I am going to try this on spaghetti and meatballs.